The Outsourcing of Local News
Friday, July 06, 2012
Brian Timpone, CEO of Journatic
Sending American jobs overseas isn’t just for manufacturing and customer service businesses. Media companies too are figuring out ways to save money by using foreign cheap labor to report on news in the United States.
A pioneer of media outsourcing is Journatic, a company with 300 freelance writers, a third of whom are based in Asia, Europe and Africa. Journatic specializes in local news, offering newspapers a less expensive alternative to having staff reporters handle obituaries, real estate notices and community news.
Journatic currently employs about 100 writers based in the Philippines, Eastern Europe, Russia, Brazil and Africa. Filipinos working for the company earn 35 to 40 cents a story.
The company has deals with Newsday, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle, among other newspapers. Journatic plans to expand its work for dailies and eventually produce 100,000 stories a week.
Ryan Smith, an American freelancer who worked for Journatic, said he came to question what the company was doing to the U.S. news business.
“People didn’t think much about the beef they were eating until someone exposed the practice of putting so-called ‘pink slime’ into ground beef,” Smith wrote in an email to Poynter. “Once it came out, the food industry moved quickly to change it. I feel like companies like Journatic are providing the public ‘pink slime’ journalism.”
Newspapers using Jouratic’s content were also caught using fake bylines with names that sounded more American than those of the people who were actually doing the writing.
To Learn More:
Journatic Worker Takes ‘This American Life’ Inside Outsourced Journalism (by Anna Tarkov, Poynter)
Act Two. Forgive Us Our Press Passes. (by Sarah Koenig, This American Life)
Tribune Company Does Deal with Journatic (by Michael Miner, Chicago Reader)
3 Other Papers besides Chicago Tribune Identify False Bylines in Journatic Stories (by Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune)
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